Living Plastic-Free in Willoughby
Willoughby City Council is committed to reducing the use of single-use plastic within the local government area.
- The plastic coffee cups, straws, bags & bottles that we use for just a few minutes are made from a material designed to last forever
- Plastic never breaks down, it just breaks up into smaller pieces
- Every piece of plastic that has ever been produced still exists in the world today
- Each year 8 million tonnes of plastic leak into our oceans (the equivalent of dumping a garbage truck full of plastic each minute)
- By 2050, there will be more plastics than fish (by weight) in our oceans
- Plastics transfer into the food chain – carrying pollutants with them
What can we do?
- Take your reusable cup for your coffee or take a few minutes and drink in
- Ask your local café if they have joined Responsible Cafes – a movement that encourages people to use reusable cups by offering a discount
- Carry your own reusable water bottle, shopping bag and fruit/veg produce bags
- Carry a set of reusable cutlery for your take-away meals
- Say no to the straw and refuse soy sauce fish
- Avoid over-packaged products, shop at a Farmer’s Market or Food Co-op if there is one nearby
- Don’t use balloons for celebrations and don’t accept a balloon from promoters (and tell them why) Balloonsblow.org
- Join Take 3 for the Sea and Plastic Free July for other practical actions you can take to reduce your plastic use.
- Join Council’s Bye Bye Plastic campaign and take the pledge here: byebyeplastic.com.au
Alternatives to plastic bin liners
Following the supermarket bag ban, many residents might be considering alternative bin-liners. Here are some ideas of alternatives, in no particular order:
1. Naked bin
In most circumstances, the most eco-friendly solution is to not line your bin with a bag at all.
Pros: Plastic-free; you save money on bin liners.
Cons: You might need to rinse your bin more often. Any food waste ideally should be composted but, if not possible, should be wrapped in newspaper to avoid mess.
Tip: If you need help composting your food waste, jump on Council’s Compost Revolution page for tutorials and to access discounted worm farms and compost bins.
2. Newspaper liner
If you’re not ready to go naked, you can line your bin with a sheet of newspaper, folded origami-style.
Pros: Plastic-free; no messy bin, easy to empty into your Council bin.
Cons: Sending a sheet of recyclable newspaper to landfill instead of it being recycled; some people don’t receive newspapers; will get soggy if you have food waste in your bin.
Tip: Here are a couple of tutorials on how to make newspaper bin liners: folded & glued-style or parcel-style.
3. Biodegradable and compostable bin liners
You can choose certified biodegradable bags or compostable bags, made from renewable plant-based materials like cornstarch, instead of traditional plastic liners.
Pros: Work like a normal bin liner; easy to empty into your Council bin.
Cons: Might get soggy and start degrading in your bin after a few days if you have any food waste; more expensive than standard bin liners; not easily available in all shops yet; these bags biodegrade in the right conditions, but might never fully biodegrade in landfill, so while a better option than plastic they also carry their own environmental issues.
Tip: Beware of greenwashing – avoid bags marketed as ‘degradable’ or ‘oxo-degradable’, as they are not truly biodegradable. These bags are still made from plastic and incorporate chemical additives which means that they will disintegrate more quickly than standard plastic bags, but they never disappear completely - they degrade into smaller and smaller particles (microplastics and nanoplastics).
4. Reusing old packaging
Instead of purchasing brand new liners, why not reuse a paper bag, clothes shopping bag, chip packet or dog food bag as a bin liner? Any bag can do the trick, just match it to the size of your bin or of the amount of waste you produce.
Pros: Free option, giving a second life to an wasted bag, clean bin and easy to empty into your Council bin.
Cons: inconsistent sizes, the bag or packaging is being sent to landfill instead of being recycled – if it’s a paper bag, it could have gone in your recycling bin instead, or if it’s a ‘scrunchable’ plastic bag you could have placed it in a RedCycle bin for recycling at your local supermarket.
As you can see, there is no perfect solution - the best option is to reduce overall waste and reduce the need for bin liners, and we can do this by following the ‘5R rule’: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle.